As a freshman in high school, Ina Bhoopalam found herself the target of bullying – simply because she was involved in, and excelling at, the same academic activities as her male classmates. “People thought I shouldn’t be succeeding because I was a girl,” Ina said. The comments even spread to social media. “It didn’t make me feel good.”
In the early stages of his career, socially conscious hip hop artist Devine Carama began to notice that his Lexington, Kentucky, community was in need. He lost friends to gun violence. He saw at-risk kids who wanted to play competitive-level basketball, but who were unable to join a league due to the costs. Devine was driven to get involved and help those in need within the community.
Two years ago, Will Gladstone studied the endangered blue-footed booby in his fifth-grade science class. He learned its population had declined by 50 percent in the past 60 years, and scientists didn’t know why. Most kids would have closed their book and forgotten about the endangered bird, living far away in the Galápagos Islands. But not Will, who was intrigued by this “really cool bird.”
At the age of 16, Rana Abdelhamid was the victim of a hate crime in New York City when a stranger tried to rip the hijab from her head. “I felt shaken and all alone,” she said. She wanted to find a way to help bring Muslim women together to find a safe space to heal. The experience led her to start (IM)WISE, a nonprofit organization and grassroots movement supporting Muslim women’s empowerment through self-defense and skills-based training.